Custom Machines Case Studies

Automated Manufacturing Machine Unlocks 40% Greater Production Efficiency

Frequently replaced machine components meant lost profits for a leading masonry company. Their maintenance heavy stone slotting machine repeatedly suffered down time and issues with reliability. EPIC designed and manufactured a robust automated manufacturing machine with multiple serviceability improvements, unlocking 40% greater production efficiency.

automated-manufacturing-machineClient: Leading Masonry Company

Industry: Columbaria Masonry

Key Engineering Features

  • 100% pneumatic controls allows the system to operate anywhere compressed air is present, eliminating electricity requirements
  • Lock out tag out full pressure dump valve acts as a system kill switch
  • Pneumatic door safeties denies operator access during machine operation
  • Adjustable fixture heads accommodate a variety of stone sizes and dimensions through an adjustable XY axis
  • Self-contained water filtration system allows the system to recirculate the same water used to cool the cutting heads
  • Adjustable hydraulic bleed down component allows force modification of the bit contacting the stone

Core Challenges

  • Pneumatic force controls the cylinder moving the fixture head to reduce force when contacting the stone
  • Major efficiencies identified in the design process caused the client to request an aggressive timeline to advance the project faster than the original scope
  • Sizing the pneumatic plumbing to ensure the correct flow is allocated for optimal machine functionality

Front End Engineering (FEE)

To uncover potential issues before they occur, EPIC uses Front End Engineering (FEE). The baseline for FEE is the minimum amount of engineering required to arrive at a fixed bid. Resulting from FEE are several deliverables to the client.

EPIC created a machine layout to confirm the correct positioning of the fixture heads and monitor and control the machine movement. EPIC delivered layouts for the pneumatic controls and water filtration system. FEE gave the client: a defined scope of work, concrete project timeline, and a fixed bid not laden with contingency budgeting.

custom-machine-builderAutomated Manufacturing Machine Final Solution

On monuments or buildings with stone slab walls, there are no external fasteners holding the stone slabs in place.  Attachment is achieved by precisely positioned slots on the reverse side of the stone that act as hangers for the slab.

A company who specializes in cutting the precise slots in varying size stones contacted EPIC’s machine builder team with a problem. Their existing stone slotting machine was maintenance intensive, negatively effecting production rates while generating more expenses due to frequently replaced components.

After Front End Engineering, EPIC machine builder developed detailed 3D drawings and P&ID’s. One of the client’s main requirements included a feature to run the automated manufacturing machine on compressed air (also referred to as pneumatics). At the clients manufacturing facility, they required portability to allow tie into multiple air feed lines.

EPIC’s machine builder team fabricated the structural frame while understanding the portability and water filtration needs. To cool the cutting blades during the slotting process, water was designed to be circulated across the face of the stone.

The self-contained water filtration system, re-circulates water throughout the cutting process. A specially designed water reservoir is located under the cutting fixture heads. This reservoir is canted to allow the stone shavings to settle at the bottom.

custom-machine-fabricationThe water used for cooling the blades is pumped from the top of the reservoir using a diaphragm pump. This pump can withstand flows that include particulate.  After the shavings settle at the bottom, they are easily removed using a custom designed collection pail.

After structural fabrication, EPIC installed the cutting assembly. It was made with three independent and adjustable fixture heads. The heads can be adjusted to cut stones from 12’x12’ through 32’x232”, with any combination in between. Each head was designed to be controlled by a dedicated pneumatic line.

The fixture heads have a dedicated hydraulic bleed down cylinder. Without this cylinder, the fixture heads would slam into the stone when the pneumatic cylinder is engaged. The adjustable bleed down cylinder opposes the force of the pneumatic cylinder, allowing the fixture heads to gradually contact the stone.

This component is one of the common problem areas plaguing the old slotting machine. The orientation of the bleed down cylinder causes force to be distributed on the wrong area of the hydraulic rod. Frequent replacements occurs due to rod bending, making the system costly to maintain. By designing a cam driven system, EPIC’s machine builder team eliminates incorrect directional force on the hydraulic rod, saving replacement costs and machine downtime.

EPIC’s machine builder team has serviceability as their top priority.  Each fixture head has bracketing with exposed bolts that can be easily removed. The fixture heads can be serviced quickly, meaning less down time and increased efficiency.

The pneumatic plumbing and automation works in parallel with the fabrication of the cutting head assembly. From the control panel, the operator can regulate the position of: the fixture heads, the cutting head, and the air pressure to the entire system. If the operator needs to power down the system, they can engaging a simple fail safe switch to halt machine operation. Pneumatic door safeties for the system are integrated for additional safety measures. If the operator opens a door while the system is running, the system will immediately shut down.

The stone slotting machine was completed on time and within budget. Increased efficiencies and cost savings due to a significant reduction in replacement parts made the project a success.

Why EPIC Custom Machines

A custom machine design firm helps you design, fabricate and integrate an appropriate custom solution that meets your unique need. EPIC believes we can help you “Make it Happen” by:

  • Utilizing Front-End Engineering to ensure that the proper steps are taken during project scope development
  • Appointing a single point of direct contact during the entirety of the project
  • Maintaining an open door client policy to promote innovation. We invite clients to visit EPIC to experiment with new processes, technologies and techniques that push the limits of traditional engineering.
  • Imparting a transfer of knowledge (not just a basic training) for the machines and equipment we provide

Find a better solution. Contact EPIC or learn more about custom machine design

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